Sun, May

WELLNESS--A massive study covering almost 40 countries and over 15,000 people was conducted to see just how much exercise makes a difference in people with heart disease. The results are in and once again, moving the body more wins out over being sedentary.

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WELLNESS--Scented candles may seem like a good way to cover odors or create ambiance in your home, but there are some hidden dangers you should know about before igniting the flame. For starters, most scented candles that come from unconcerned or unconscious candle makers contain dangerous chemicals like benzene, toluene, and lead. These chemicals are known to be carcinogenic potentially leading to cancer. In one study, scientists found that the dangerous chemicals emitted in scented candles were comparable to the dangers of breathing diesel exhaust fumes.   

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WELLNESS--If you’re stressed out these days, it’s not surprising. Between natural disasters and potential man-made wars with North Korea there’s a lot to worry about. This incessant worry combined with redlining our bodies with work and other demands leaves little time for self-care. 

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WELLNESS--Let’s start with what meditation isn’t.  There are so many myths around meditation that end up stopping people from even trying.  For starters, people always say, “I can’t stop my mind from working which prevents me from meditating.” The goal of meditation is not to stop the mind.  The mind will stop when we die, and not before that. 

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WELLNESS--Plastics have been making the news again lately because Donald Trump's administration has ended a six year ban on selling bottled water at certain national parks. It is not news that plastics have been wreaking havoc on our environment and our bodies for years.

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WELLNESS--With climate change on the rise, many of us are feeling the effects of brutal ongoing heat and humidity, and if one is not careful, heat stroke can ensue. 

The Mayo Clinic defines heat stroke as “a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. 

Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.” Not drinking enough water or drinking alcohol are both high risk behaviors for heat stroke.  

While pets and the elderly are most at risk, it can also be dangerous for people who work outside or exercise in the heat. The risks are higher in high humidity because moist air traps dampness and heat in our bodies making our cooling systems less effective 

There are a number of ways to tell if someone is starting to feel heatstroke included slurred speech, elevated heart rate or vomiting. Headaches can also be an early indicator that the body is overheating and if the person has flushed skin or a rapid heart rate these are also warning signs that the person should stop the physical activity and get inside. 

If anyone has more than one of the symptoms above it is quite possible they need emergency health services. Call 911 immediately. If emergency services are delayed or unavailable it is important that the person is cooled by whatever means necessary until medical services arrive.  

If you suspect someone is experiencing heat stroke there are a few steps to take. If it’s safe to move them try to get them indoors in the air conditioning as soon as possible. Sometimes if someone faints or feels dizzy people will gather around them. Be sure to tell people to step back so the victim can breathe fresh air and not feel more suffocated and hot. Fan the person if you are outside and can’t get them to a cool place and apply ice or ice packs to the patient's armpits neck groin and back if possible. 

If you are indoors and the patient can be safely moved without risk of falling (dizziness and fainting are common with heat stroke) get them to cold bath or cold shower where they can sit in the tub and cool down safely. Stay close and be sure the victim does not fall over and hit their head. A tub full of icewater is also helpful until medical help arrives.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--My patients will often ask me if they can eat grains and potatoes and still be healthy. The answer is, it depends. For starters all carbs are not all created equally. Some have a higher glycemic index than others meaning that break down faster. Secondly, everybody is different and the way our bodies break down and utilize food is also different. One thing to keep in mind is that if you have a high sensitivity to carbs and sugar in general, you probably know it by now. If your diabetic for example, carbs and sugars need to be treated with kid gloves. 

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WELLNESS--When we go get our blood drawn either at the lab or at our doctors office, they are usually only looking to see if your blood panel levels are in the “normal range.” In other words, the doctor is looking to see if there is anything wrong with your levels. What is not taken into consideration in a standard blood workup is whether or not your varying levels are at their optimum range.  

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WELLNESS--Many of my patients have been asking me about the safety of coconut oil.  Recently, the American Heart Association came out with a warning that coconut oil and other forms of fat such as animal fat is bad for us and may increase the risk of heart disease. This is outdated information and the old belief systems that healthy fats are bad for us are totally false. 

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WELLNESS--Glutathione is not a new supplement, but many people are confused as to what purpose it serves, and as to whether or not they should be taking it.  Glutathione is considered by many to be the most important antioxidant available to man. Antioxidants combat free radicals in the body, which are responsible for damaging our bodies’ cells. Besides its antioxidant qualities, it also helps to detoxify the liver and enhance the immune system. Taking glutathione also helps the body perform it’s own detoxification process.  

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WELLNESS--The busy badge is an award that I for one can do without. In today’s day and age people are seemingly in competition with each other as to who is busier. Ask anyone how he or she is doing and most surely you will hear “I’m so busy.” What people don’t realize is that being busy all the time may be doing more damage than good. Here’s why. 

  1. When we are too busy we can’t be present to what we are doing. As we run from one task to another or one app to the next, it is challenging to focus our minds and attention on what it is that we are doing in the moment. Unfortunately, this busy mindset often carries over into our relationships and before we know it, we are either not making plans at all with our friends and family or we are spending short little snippets of time with them that hardly add up to meaningful relationships. Being present to what we are doing no matter what it is an important component to a healthy life. 
  1. Being too busy often leads to multi-tasking which has been proven to be a futile and unsuccessful endeavor. Each time we get new information the brain is rewarded. At face value this seems like a good thing, but the problem begins when we switch from app to app or text to email too often. For example if one is checking their email and they hear a text alert and grab their phone to check. While our brains feel rewarded by new information, we can only process one thought at a time, and the constant switching of subjects eventually starts to train the brain to lose focus. 
  1. When we are so busy running around accomplishing things we forget the most important subject of all which is ourselves! Getting caught up in facebook and instagram in addition to our texts and emails and then piling on work and errands makes it very easy to take our own self-care for granted. Studies show that people who spend more time on social media tend to be more depressed if looking at facebook brings up feelings of envy. Coupling those feelings of depression along with the time spent on social media leaves little time for-self care and self-love. 
  1. Finally, being overly busy often causes a stress response in the body triggering a cascade of stress hormones and negative impacts on the body and mind. The heart, mind and body need rest, and without it, stress hormone levels stay elevated causing inflammation and over time possible heart problems and even cancer. Taking time each day to sit somewhere quiet and just breath is crucial to ones well being. 

Lets all give up the busy badge. When I hear people complaining of being too busy I use that to remind myself to slow down and take some time to gather my thoughts and feelings so I can finish my day with greater awareness and focus. Instead of letting our brains run us all over the place, let’s take one step and one task at a time in order to bring the best to every situation and every person we come into contact with. 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLENSS--Walking has always been celebrated. From the time a baby takes that first step everything changes. There is more independence, freedom, and the added benefit of exercise. As adults, walking still offers all the benefits it once did. 

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WELLNESS--Anyone who has experienced food poisoning knows just how unpleasant it can be. The

CDC estimates that 76 million food poisoning or food borne illnesses occur a year in the US alone. The most common types of food poisoning are E. Coli, Campylobacter, Shigella, Salmonella, and Listeria. 

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WELLNESS--We are well into spring which is a great time to do a gentle cleanse by eliminating sugar from the diet for 14 days. When we eat sugar there are certain bacteria, often referred to as mycotoxins, that thrive on and feed off of sugar.

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WELLNESS--Our bodies cannot synthesize vitamin C (also known as L-ascorbic acid) meaning we have to get it from the food we eat. It is also water-soluble so vitamin C will flush out of the body making it challenging to take too much. There are people who take mega doses of vitamin C well into the thousands of milligrams a day to help cure or heal certain ailments but the food and nutrition board recommend 75 mg for adult females and 90 mg for adult males. 

For people that want to take more, they often use what’s called a bowel tolerance level meaning that once someone takes too much vitamin C it can lead to diarrhea and it’s time to cut back to a smaller dose. 

Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant meaning it helps to block the damage caused by free radicals. Cigarette smokers need to take more vitamin C as they are doing more damage to their bodies by creating more free radicals and actually lowering their levels of vitamin C. While in the US and other developed countries it is unusual to have dangerously low levels of vitamin C, it is common that people have lower than desired amounts in their bodies. 

There are a number of conditions associated with low levels of vitamin C. If one is getting their vitamin C from healthy sources like fruits and vegetables, they will reap the added benefit of increased fiber in the diet as well. Ingesting higher levels of vitamin C may help avoid conditions such as heart disease and stroke by preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries. 

While preventing the common cold can sometimes be difficult, vitamin C has been proven to shorten the length of a cold by about a day. In studies conducted using elite athletes, they found that the use of Vitamin C reduces the risk of catching a cold.  Ideally, one will eat enough foods that are rich in Vitamin C making supplementation less important. The following is a list of foods highest in vitamin C. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather one showing the foods with the highest concentration of Vitamin C: 


Red pepper


Brussel Sprouts






Green peppers 

For people with chronic disease or inflammatory diseases, it may be more important to supplement vitamin C. Also, keep in mind that vitamin C helps to build collagen and is very good for the skin, so people with skin diseases may also benefit from supplementing vitamin C.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--The sugar industry brings in an estimated 100 billion dollars a year and on average, Americans consume up to 150 pounds of the stuff per person per year. We all know that sugar is not healthy, but what is it about this substance that makes it so darn dangerous? In addition to the negative effects on our blood, brain, and heart, sugar also makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients.   

Vitamin C is a crucial compound protecting our cells, adding to collagen levels for our skin, and keeping us healthy. Dogs and cats are able to synthesize their own vitamin c so there is no need for them to eat vitamin C rich foods. Humans don’t have that ability and we must get our vitamin C from our diet or from supplements. Our cells have receptors that invite certain compounds to gain access. The specific receptor for vitamin C is the same receptor that allows glucose or sugar to enter. Because the cell has a greater affinity for glucose compared to vitamin C, if the sugar levels in the body are elevated due to poor diet, the cells will absorb the sugar disallowing room for the vitamin C to be taken up by our cells. 

In addition to the above, there is a process called phagocytosis, which is the term describing the process of the body is fighting off bacteria and viruses. This process is happening 24 hours a day and without it our immunity would shut down. Studies show that when the blood sugar levels in the body are 120 or higher, the phagocytic cycle can be reduced by up to 75%. This system is crucial in fighting off disease and ailments, and when compromised the body can no longer protect itself against dangerous and possible life threatening disease. 

As far as B vitamins are concerned, sugar plays a vital role in metabolizing these vitamins. B vitamins are important in the process of converting our food into fuel. While sugar doesn’t directly rob the body of B vitamins, too much sugar in the diet and not enough B vitamins make it impossible for the body to absorb and metabolize the sugar. This fact becomes increasingly important for diabetics or anyone fighting with high levels of blood sugar.   

Finally, it’s true that all sugar is not created equally, but if you think that just because you’re eating brown sugar or sugar in the raw instead of white sugar you’re in the clear, you’re sorely mistaken. While it can be argued that sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup is the worst form of sugar, and natural sugars like organic honey is less damaging, it’s important to realize that all sugar causes a spike in blood sugar which in turn commands the body to release insulin. This process, when sugar intake is too high, is very damaging to the body and tells the cells to absorb the sugar and store it as fat. 

The best way to handle sugar is to cut back or completely eliminate added sugars. If one does this they will still get plenty of natural sugars that occur in fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains. Even milk has quite a bit of sugar and there is none added. While the sugar content and the added sugar may seem confusing to people, the FDA finally passed a law requiring labels to specify how much sugar is naturally occurring in the food, and how much is added. This law goes into effect July of 2018.  


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: Cristiano_heals.)


WELLNESS--Farmers markets have been around forever with the most famous market of all being the Original Farmers Market here in Los Angeles. As novel as it is to believe that this was the first farmers market, farmers have been setting up food stands in busy metropolitan areas as far back as the start of cities. More recently in the mid-2000’s the food movement started reaching enough people causing greater quality demands to be made. People realize that getting food from the farmer that literally travelled from the farm to the farmers market that same day was a much better choice. 

When buying foods or other goods at the local farmers markets, one has the ability to address any questions you may have directly to the source. When we buy produce at a grocery store it’s very likely that we have no idea where exactly this food came from, and for how long has it been pulled from the ground? We want our food, especially fruit and vegetables, to be as fresh as possible. As soon as fruits and vegetables are harvested, there are fungi that start to grow and decompose them. The longer they are stored with being consumed, the greater number of fungi and bacteria present. The less time we give them to replicate, the better. 

Farmers markets tend to draw a healthier more food aware crowd of people. Therefore, the farmers know that things like pesticides and genetically modified foods would not be welcome at the market. While our government keeps telling us that these things are not dangerous, there is mounting evidence to the contrary.  

It is not unusual for food at your local grocery chain to have travelled over a thousand miles to get to that store. This requires lots of energy usually in the form of fossil fuels adding to the pollution levels. In addition, there is more packaging used in grocery chains creating more garbage as opposed to the farmers market that usually has no packaging and was transported that same day by the very farmer him or herself. 

Besides the obvious health benefits, we are also supporting our local farmers instead of paying our money into big grocery chains that very often take that money and send it to their headquarters bank. While these stores do employ people, they also tend to channel money away from our local communities. The farmers market is always a fun place to go walk around and absorb the positive healthy energy of the local community. In big cities like Los Angeles, we can all use more time outside in the fresh air with our neighbors.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--Vitamin E is an antioxidant and right after vitamin C was one of the very first compounds to be turned into a supplement. It can only be found in food or supplements and is an important factor in protecting the body against pollutants, toxicity, eye disease, heart disease, and even neurological disorders. There are also studies showing that vitamin E can be helpful in keeping cancer at bay and that it can be beneficial in treating and preventing certain types of dementia. 

It is a fat-soluble vitamin meaning it dissolves in fat and can be found naturally in meat, fruit, vegetables, wheat germ, and eggs. If you feel your diet isn’t including enough vitamin E, you can supplement. Studies show that 400 IU’s a day seems to be beneficial and safe. Anything over 400 IU’s and there is some evidence that with certain patients with a history of heart issues, there can be complications. Most people however will be fine with 400 IU’s a day. As always, it is best to discuss with your primary care provider before you start taking supplements. This goes double for people with serious pre-existing conditions or for people that are taking blood thinners. 

When purchasing a vitamin E supplement it may seem confusing. The trick is to find a vitamin E complex that includes all 4 tocopherols and not just one or two. We especially don’t want to purchase products with dl-alpha-tocopherol. Not all supplements are created equally, so talk to your health and wellness providers before undergoing major changes to your diet and lifestyle. Health and wellness is a moving target, and even those of us with our fingers on the pulse of health are under constant pressure to keep up with research and the ever changing landscape of wellness. 

(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: Cristiano_heals.)





WELLNESS--By now everyone has heard of probiotics. Pro means good and biotic means bacteria, so probiotics are good bacteria that help maintain a friendly gut flora. Prebiotics are non-digestible foods that feed probiotics and are mostly carbohydrates in the form of fiber. Think of prebiotics as fertilizer for probiotics. They are found primarily in vegetables. The more prebiotics that we consume, the greater the colonization of probiotics in our gut. 

By eating enough prebiotics, we ensure that the friendly bacteria in our gut maintain a healthy population. This is important for many reasons including keeping inflammation levels at a minimum and helping to keep our immunity strong. When the healthy bacteria levels drop, inflammation levels go up. When the friendly bacteria levels drop, it is more likely that inflammation will rise and we run the risk of getting leaky gut syndrome. 

The health of the large intestine and gut is more important than we ever expected. Links with poor probiotic levels and the gut have now been linked to many ailments including mental health issues, autoimmune problems like colitis and chrones disease, and elevated levels of inflammation that can negatively effect every system in the body. 

One of the most obvious ways to check the health of the gut is simply by looking at your digestive health. After eating is there gas and bloating? Are the stools formed and normal or do you tend to go in the direction of loose stool or diarrhea? Also, once the food is broken down it is to be used as fuel, so your energy level should tell you a lot about how efficiently your body is breaking down food. There are also blood tests to check your levels of inflammation in the blood that you can ask your primary care provider to run. 

The most effective way to get all of your prebiotic needs met is by eating plenty of leafy green vegetables. If your lifestyle is set up in a way making it difficult to get the vegetables you need, there are prebiotic supplements. There has been chatter about how prebiotics and probiotics should not both be taken, but they are ungrounded. Taking both a prebiotic and probiotic will not be a problem. Ideally, take them both at the same time each day and ideally with food. 

Keep your gut healthy in order to maintain optimum health mentally and physically.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR)


WELLNESS--Too many times I hear older people or people that have always been out of shape say that it’s too late to get in shape. Some report that they have never been physically active and at this stage it’s too late to start. I’m here to tell you that is not the case. It’s never too late to start taking care of yourself by working out and eating healthy.     

Among the reasons that exercise is so important are the reduction in stroke, heart attacks, and diabetes; but why else must we exercise? Newer research points to a region in the brain that is affected by cardio. The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls verbal memory and learning. Cardio that gets the heart pumping and the body sweating is what is required to stimulate hippocampal growth.  

Besides the brain boost, research indicates that people who work out regularly and do at least 2 hours total of cardio a week actually extend their lives by 3 to 7 years. The heart benefits and anti-cancer effects of cancer also speak for themselves. People who get their hearts pumping and the sweat flowing have a significant reduction in developing colon, and breast cancer. 

Now that we have reviewed the known benefits of working out, let’s talk about why people resist doing cardio. For starters, everyones’ body is different. Some bodies take to physical activity more naturally than others. There are those people that have always worked out since a young age and it just comes naturally to them. Then we have the athletes of the world that are so passionate about a particular sport that they can’t imagine not doing it. These previously mentioned people are lucky that fitness comes with little effort. 

You may be one of the groups of people that simply never had a regular exercise routine in your life, or you may be the type that used to do sports and without that group participation, fitness has fallen to the wayside. Many people can look back and remember a time when they participated in a group activity and therefore were in great shape. If this is you, then it may be necessary to join some type of fitness group. If socializing is more important than fitness, I suggest you blend the two together by doing group hikes, or fitness classes. Taking a dance class or purchasing a monthly pass to a yoga studio might do the trick. Some people simply do not want to work out alone. 

The gym culture can be intimidating and it’s quite possible to get in shape without joining a gym. If you live somewhere warm all year round you can get on MeetUp.com and look for a group of people that are also getting in shape together. Could be a class taught in the park each week or simply a walking or hiking group. If those options are not around you can join other types of studios besides a gym. Most places offer yoga studios or Pilates or dance studios and these can be far less intimidating than a gym, and sometimes more social. Of course a walking buddy that you can find at work and do a brisk 30 minute walk each day during lunch is also a fun and free way to get the heart pumping! 

Whatever you decide to do, the trick is to make it a habit. You want to break that 2 hours a week minimum with your cardio and ideally you will do that every week. Once it’s a habit your brain will love it and you will start to as well. Look at it as a time that you set aside that is for you. Self-care can be fun and rewarding and once you start to look and feel better, keeping it going will get even easier.  


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 323.935.3420. twitter: @CristianoWFR)


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WELLNESS--You may be familiar with the term “Sound Bath” as it has become more and more popular, especially within the spiritual, yoga, and meditation communities. Although it has nothing to do with getting wet, many would liken it to being cleansed from the inside out. 

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WELLNESS--Over the past few months I have been using an FDA approved, homeopathic, transdermal, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) gel. Like many people, I am always on the lookout for the next breakthrough product that will help me  remain healthy, young, and vital. 

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WELLNESS--I’ve been taking a social media vacation. I needed a break. The more people I speak with, it seems that I am not alone.

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WELLNESS--Have you ever noticed that even when you’re doing well, life seems to test you?

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WELLNESS--We have been having record breaking heat in Southern California and with the planet continuing to warm up, there’s a good chance we have not seen the end of it.

This past week Los Angeles and San Diego have felt more like Arizona with temperatures reaching 117 in some places. Heat records all over southern California were toppled and at one point in Los Angeles alone there were over 32,000 residents without power. 

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WELLNESS--For starters, the all or nothing attitude towards exercise is not the mindset we want to hold.

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WELLNESS--Last week two high profile celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain took their own lives.

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WELLNESS--There is a drug that has taken the psychiatric world by storm and it’s called Ketamine.

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